Tag Archive for workplace culture

Leaders Do. Together.

mlkCountless organizations out there right now, while perhaps even appearing healthy and stable to those on the outside looking in, are dying on the inside. Morale is down. Infighting and politics are on the rise. Trust is lacking. Inefficiency isn’t. In short, it’s a hot mess.

So what’s to be done? Well, that would certainly depend on the group or organization, and what the specific symptoms are, but I think there’s at least one common denominator. These organizations need leaders, whether they have the fancy title or not, to step into the fray and become initiators of change.

When those leaders — again, whether they have a title or not — begin to shift together, use their influence together, talk together, dream together, strategize together, and, well, you get the idea; when those things happen, a group or organization will start to see change. And it will be the best kind of change, because it’s organic, felt-in-the-heart change, not some overwrought corporate mandate that comes down from above.

But here’s the kicker. It really has to be a group effort. What would happen in an organization if managers, execs, and other leaders went after something together? What if an organization’s 20 or 30 or however many managers and execs rolled up their sleeves, locked arms, and said they were going to make something happen. Not try to make something happen. Make it happen. As a wise, albeit odd-looking, smallish, green philosopher/jedi once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Culture change? Way easier if it’s more than a couple of managers and/or execs here and there. Man, the cumulative influence of an organization’s leaders banding together in meaningful ways can’t be overstated.

So if you’re a leader within a group or organization, whether officially recognized as one or not, start the shift. Lead. Encourage others to do the same. Get together with them. Talk about it. Recruit others to join you. Make a difference. What are you waiting for?

 

Fit in. Or Don’t.

drseusswhyfitinYou can fit in, or you can stand out. You can’t have it both ways.

There are scores of people and groups out there who are more than willing to describe for you to a well-crossed T how you’re to act/look/think in any given situation or setting. Perhaps they’ve been there since you were a wee lad or lass, encouraging — and sometimes forcing — you to fit in to a given mold.

soldieryawnThink of all the books, scoldings, fringe religious zealots, co-workers, employees, school systems, etc, who took (and take) great pains to establish for you (or others) exactly — and often it really is a precise thing — who or what or how you’re supposed to be, whereas we’d say we want people to just…be.

It can be overwhelming. And paralyzing. And terrifying. When we feel the tug to step outside what’s expected of us, we can feel befuddled, bamboozled, baffled, and bewildered, especially if we’re berated for doing so. What becomes painfully obvious is that we’re really good at clinging to the way things are, and we’re often fiercely loyal to the way we’ve always done things around here.

But back to those folks — many of them well-intentioned — who will give you those subtle reminders that you need to be or look or talk like or believe a certain thing or things.

“This is what a corporate cog…er…individual looks like.”

“This is what an executive looks like.”

“This is what a [insert your follower-of-a-given-religion here] looks like.”

“This is what an affluent kid looks like.”

And so it goes.

But if you fit in too much, you won’t do anything. Think of people who do or have done things in any sphere. Amazing things that made or are making a real difference to different groups of folks. History is full of such people (Jesus of Nazareth, Ghandi, MLK, Michael Jordan, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Churchill, Richard Branson, etc).

weirdisradRarely do they “fit” anywhere. They do great things precisely because they’re willing to challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the box (though I still loathe that expression), innovate, and be, well, different. Isn’t that the very essence of the word extraordinary? Something outside the ordinary?

What groups, churches, organizations, and communities need is just those people, but sadly (though not unpredictably) they’re largely missing. As leaders, we’ve got to create environments where people can explore who they are and become the person they’re meant to be.

Working Out and “Fixing” Culture

richardsimmons

I’ve seen and heard it time and again.

“We’re going to fix our culture.” Or,

“For the next six months we’re going to focus on our people.” Or,

“I hope we can get our morale issue under control so we can get back to business.”

Yikes.

Don’t get me wrong — those are good things to do, but imagine if you took this approach to a health and wellness program. In fact, many of us have had this very experience (don’t judge me). It usually begins around January 1, doesn’t it? Or when we get ready to go to the beach for the first time over the summer. We get really motivated to get in better shape, eat right, and so on. We buy gym memberships and workout clothes that fit a little snugly (because after all, we’re going to lose weight, right?) and march off to the gym, determined that this time will be different. This time we won’t give up in March. We’ll at least give it until June.

We all know that to get lasting results in the health arena, we have to continually manage ourselves in this area. We have to keep eating right, and we have to keep getting to the gym to exercise. It’s an ongoing thing, or at least it should be.

The same is true in regards to group culture. In our organizations, we too often try to stick band-aids on culture issues rather than taking a long-term, strategic approach to them. Rather than understanding that culture is an ongoing initiative, we relegate it to some sort of temporary project.

lazy guySix months later we end up on the couch, our fingertips orange with Cheetos, and remnants of fried chicken from two days ago clinging to our sweats. We’re  bothered that we can’t fit into our workout clothing; but not bothered enough to actually do something about it on an ongoing basis.

There’s always next year.